There are two things I think about when I think of my friend, Gerry Stoltzfoos:
The man has big feet (size 14 to be exact).
The man has an even bigger heart (at least three sizes larger than is good for anyone in this world, where kindness and gentleness are so underrated).
So it was with great nervousness and excitement that I responded to his January, 2010 request to help him write his book.
Let’s do it, I said.
We called it “83 Lost Sheep.”
* * * * *
First of all, let me explain the differences between Gerry and I.
Gerry is a pentecostal, evangelical preacher with a faith even bigger than his feet.
I am a postmodern, introverted, nondenominationalist who rarely is comfortable being certain about anything.
Gerry spends his life caring for people – not church people or Christians or holy people. Just people.
I spend most of my days sitting in front of my keyboard, putting one…word…in…front…of…the…other.
But somehow we came together and created a book based on Gerry’s teaching of Luke 10, when Jesus sends out his disciples. “His instructions to them: the Harvest is so great, but the workers are so few…” I think the teaching is compelling, interesting, even inspiring. Hopefully the writing has captured Gerry’s over-sized heart.
* * * * *
It’s a book of stories, mostly, about the beginnings of churches (Gerry is passionate about starting new churches). He also talks about why fifty years ago so many people found value in, and attended, church. Yet today so few people go anymore.
But my favorite part is in Chapter 8 (a chapter entitled, “It’s About Blessing, Stupid”):
Want to know why most parents can’t influence their teenagers?
They criticize their kids’ music.
They criticize their kids’ clothes.
They criticize their kids’ friends.
They criticize their kids’ choice of career.
They criticize EVERYTHING about their kids! And then they wonder why they have no influence.
Pastors want to know why no one comes to their church.
Often it’s because in subtle ways, and in big ways, they put people down. No one wants to hang around that – it doesn’t matter how good of a speaker you are. The bottom line? People will not go to a place that makes them hate themselves. They’re not coming back.
I’m not saying that preachers have to water down their messages – even fire and brimstone preachers can be good at it, if they help the listener feel redeemable. But being an endless critic will get you nowhere. This is precisely why we’re not influencing our world today. The first thing the world thinks about when they hear “Christian” is the list of things they think we’re against:
Until the world feels complimented and blessed by us, we will never have influence.
* * * * *
If the path the church is on interests you, if you like thinking about how the church can get back on track, or if you like to read a great speaker telling insightful stories, then this is a must read.
You can find out more about it HERE.
You can order the audio version HERE.
You can order the paperback on Amazon, and if you’ve read it you can use that link to go and leave a review, for which I would be eternally grateful (or at least grateful until next week).
Or if you live close to Gap, PA, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’d be happy to deliver a signed copy to your door for $15.00.